The Insurance Banana Skins global survey – 806 insurers in 54 countries – reports increased cyber-crime fears
Concerns about cyber risk have become the biggest concern for Australian insurance companies, jumping from 19th place four years ago to the top ranking in 2015. And it looks like the industry is bracing for sustained attack from cyber criminals.
The finding is part of the fifth biennial Insurance Banana Skins survey, a joint PwC and Centre for Financial Innovation (CSFI) report released today. The survey had 806 industry respondents from 54 countries, including 28 from Australia.
Political interference and macro-economic volatility were also among the top fears for Australian insurers, however, at a global level, insurers were slightly less concerned about cyber risks, ranking it 4th behind concerns about regulation, the macro-economic outlook, and interest rates.
PwC Australia’s insurance leader Scott Fergusson said digital product delivery makes Australian insurers prime targets for cybercrime, especially because of the volume of consumer data they have stored.
“Insurers have a vast amount of information that is valuable to cyber criminals, including medical records, banking and credit card details, and personal identity data,” he said.
Senetas high-assurance security comments
Any organisation holding large volumes of information rich data should be worried that it will be a hot target for cyber-criminals.
That data may contain valuable intellectual property (IP), business secrets, identity information and/or bank and credit card account information – all of which may easily be exploited by the increasingly skilled cyber-criminals.
The jointly produced biennial Insurance Banana Skins Survey by PwC and Centre for Financial Innovation (CSFI) reveals two key (and very obvious) issues for all businesses and government agencies that hold very large volumes of information rich data.
First, this is not a new issue and it is not going to simply go away. The same and other similar surveys in past years revealed similar concerns.
The second is that fears of cyber-crime are now insurers’ biggest worry (or at least one of the most serious) and the only difference today is that the respondents’ fears have increased quite significantly.
Therefore, what must worry insurance sector regulators and investors, as well as insurers themselves, is that insurers can’t feel they are making much headway to protect their valuable data from successful data breaches.
While the survey results statistically highlight increased insurance sector worries about cyber-crime; these worries do not statistically appear to have been eased by feelings of making strong advances in data security.
To achieve advances in data security and ease concerns about successful data breaches, organisations’ data security strategies must focus on protection and not just prevention.
This is where high-assurance data encryption and encryption key management are essential. Only then will any manager have confidence that should sensitive data get into unauthorised hands, it will be useless to cyber-criminals.